The State Archaeological Museum of Ascoli Piceno is an institution that holds a constant dialogue with the city. Preservation and caring for the material evidence of the territory are the starting point to the knowledge and the shared values that these pieces of evidence keep passing down.
It was established as Museum of the Ascoli Territory, with particular attention to the southern area and to the valleys of River Tronto and River Esino. Indeed, it ideally continues to hold the role of the Archaeological Civic Museum of Ascoli, which was one of the most important historic collections of Marche archaeology with 15,000 pieces and well-known for the Picene items.
The civic collection was started thanks to the bequest of Alessandro Maria Odoardi who was from Ascoli and the bishop of Perugia. At the end of the 17th century, he bequeathed his hometown his private collection, which mainly included Etruscan antiquities.
Right after the Unification of Italy in 1861, the City decided to create a museum starting from this core, and to appoint Giulio Gabrielli to take care of the collection and to build it up. Despite not having an academic education on archaeology, Gabrielli understood that the museum could not remain a simple collection of antiquities. He searched relentlessly the territory of southern Marche and northern Abruzzo looking for objects that farmers unearthed during their agricultural work by chance. Today, evidence of his research are in his manuscripts, and they are an invaluable source of information not only on archaeology, but on history and custom too.
The first half of the 20th century was a quite difficult time for the museum, because it had to move several times: from Palazzo dell’Arengo to Palazzo dei Capitani at first; eventually, it was evicted by the Fascist Militia, and went back to its original location without being rearranged. The finds were kept closed in wooden boxes until World War II until Nereo Alfieri was appointed by the Superintendency to compile a summary inventory in 1947.
In 1981, the City of Ascoli Piceno and the Archaeological Superintendency of the Marche Region reached an Agreement that stated that the items of the civic collection would be promoted in the new State Archaeological Museum, which was opened on the 13 June in the Renaissance Palazzo State Archaeological Museum of Ascoli Piceno Panichi and recently restored. The collection was built up thanks to new excavations that allowed a more comprehensive historic framework.
Today, the core of the Museum is the Picene section with its shiny sets of bronze, iron, and amber jewellery and its fearsome weapons. On the ground floor, there are the remains of the Roman Asculum, including the carved travertine monuments and the double-faced mask mosaic. On the second floor, the prehistoric section is in preparation.